INDUSTRY SEGMENT : Education and research | Higher education
Technology | Solution : HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, HP Jet Fusion 580 Color 3D Printer
Material : HP 3D High Reusability (HR) CB PA 12
Clemson has worked with a variety of 3D printing technologies since 2007, including fused deposition modeling (FDM), material jetting, and stereolithography (SLA), according to Timothy Pruett, Manager of the 3D Printing Lab for the Machining and Technical Services (MTS) group, part of the CECAS at Clemson.
Currently, the 3D Printing Lab offers 3D printing services to two sets of customers: students who design prototypes for classes and entrepreneurial projects and a select group of local companies, including automotive suppliers. Both groups require 3D printing services that can accommodate complex designs, withstand functional testing, and are dimensionally accurate. However, Clemson’s legacy 3D printing technologies have struggled to keep up with these demands.
"As engineers, we have a lot of great ideas," said John Desjardins, Bioengineering Professor at Clemson University. "3D printing is used in our senior design course to allow the student to see their product for the first time, to evaluate not just how it’s going to look but also how it’s going to work."
For example, bioengineering students often use the lab’s 3D printers to print prototypes of new products—like a new type of catheter or an apparatus to hold an infant’s head in place during cranial surgery. Many of the students' designs include small, detailed features that need to be both strong and precise.
In the past, Pruett said his 3D printers have struggled to print these types of parts, and he would often have to ask students to redesign their parts to meet their desired tolerances and clearances.
“Many times, I’ll print tiny bioengineering projects with (material jetting) and (when I) water-jet off the support material, sometimes there’s no part left because they’ll have some small feature that breaks off. I’ve found that even the tiniest feature made out of (HP’s) nylon is a lot stronger.”
- Timothy Pruett, Manager of the 3D Printing Lab for the Machining and Technical Services (MTS) group, part of the CECAS at Clemson.
Since adopting the HP Jet Fusion 580 Color 3D Printer, Pruett said he has been able to print parts he did not think were possible to produce on 3D printers. This not only makes Pruett’s students and customers happy, but it also encourages them to push the boundaries of their imagination—they no longer are restricted by previous design constraints.
In addition to the improved accuracy of HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology, Pruett is also impressed by its speed.
“If you give me the file by 3 o’clock, I’ll give your parts to you the next day,” said. “I come in in the morning and parts are ready to be pulled out [of the printer]. I pull them out, bead blast them, and by 9 a.m., everybody’s parts are ready.”
Due to the speed and capacity of HP MJF, Pruett’s workflow has changed. With previous technologies, he mostly printed student and customer parts one at a time or in small batches.
If there were multiple requests, he could get a backlog. However, thanks to HP Multi Jet Fusion's fast print speed and capacity to print multiple parts in the same build, he doesn’t worry about this as much.
“[Students] put together their prototypes and bring me their CAD files,” he said. “I assess them to determine which [3D printing] technology is best for them. Lately, everything I see is going to the HP machine. And [students] are excited because I am telling them they can get their parts the next day.”
The HP Jet Fusion 580 Color 3D Printer produces high-quality parts at an affordable price point, according to Pruett. This has already made the printer more attractive to Pruett than Clemson’s legacy technologies. Indeed, Clemson’s FDM printers were affordable, but produced parts with layer lines, and material jetting printers produced smooth parts, but had high material prices, Pruett explained. Now with HP, he does not have to deal with these tradeoffs.
“It will probably replace 60 or 80 percent of the work I do with the other machines,” Pruett said.
The potential to print in color is yet another contributing factor to Pruett’s enthusiasm about the HP Jet Fusion 580 Color 3D Printer.
“When we start printing parts in color, the models are going to be much more appealing aesthetically,” Pruett said.
“The students are going to make their gadget, put their name on the side of it, design their own logo, and it’s going to look like a professional product.”
Ultimately, Pruett said color was the first thing to catch his eye about the HP Jet Fusion 580 Color 3D Printer, but now he is so enthusiastic about the entire package—the speed, cost, the strength of the nylon, the ease of printing—that he sees color as just another added benefit.
“When I first saw this machine, color is what got me excited about it,” said Pruett. “But now this machine is so awesome I’d almost be just as happy as if it never had color—even though it is nice to print the Clemson orange!”